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South to North story: No engagement, no reconciliation

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jan 01: The Lethpora fidayeen attack, which left three militants and five CRPF personnel dead, has sent alarm bells ringing from Srinagar to New Delhi.
The involvement of a young local militant, who also happened to be the son of a serving cop, has put forth the troubling reality of South Kashmir, an area that refuses to relent despite soft and hard power being applied in abundance.
The deceased militant identified as teenager Fardeen Khanday also recorded a 7-minute-long video message which popped up on social media after his death.
As expected, Fardeen had already chronicled his own death in the video and also made a call to arms in it.
Security experts privately admit that the video will do more harm than the attack on Lethpora camp as it makes Fardeen into a “martyr” for everyone who is inclined towards militancy.
“We now have a local fidayeen. A young local boy who managed to infiltrate into a CRPF camp and cause heavy damage. Moreover, his last message was tailor made of his age group. This is worrying. It will add to our problems. To be honest, I personally am out of ideas,” said a top police officer on condition of anonymity.
Senior broadcast journalist Mufti Islah wrote on a website: “Kashmiri militants have seldom posed as fidayeens though on a few occasions they have carried out suicide attacks, including one with a human bomb just outside the main entrance of the Army headquarters in Srinagar. Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba — architects of fidayeen attacks — appoint Pakistani militants to carry out such deadly strikes because they are better equipped for the job with rigorous training and judicious use of ammunition. However, in a major departure, it looks like Jaish has laid their trust on the local cadre”.
A close analysis of two hotbeds, Pulwama in south and Hajin in north, throws up startling results.
In both the areas, militancy has returned and is thriving. More so in Hajin, an area which was once home of the counter insurgency movement.
In both the areas, there seems to be a total lack of political engagement on behalf of the Government and total rejection of reconciliation on behalf by the local population.
“It is a paradox. It is almost as if young boys have developed a death wish. No amount of development or jobs seem to provide any breathing space. It’s almost like talking to walls. It’s also true that most of rural Kashmir lives a heavily militarized and generally a very depressing life where faultiness between us and them have only widened. Many are seeking relief in the form of violence,” says another top officer posted in a very sensitive area.
“Since 1947, the state has not been able to give round-the-clock electricity. How do you intend to win over people whom you have denied basic amenities of life,” the officer added.
Both these districts – Pulwama and Bandipora – have a very strong presence in the state Government with two most high profile ministries of Finance and Roads and Building belonging to them.
In 2014, Assembly and General Elections, both these districts, particularly the youth had voted in large numbers. The same youth today are a cause of anxiety for the Government as their anger and alienation on the ground is unrelenting.


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Circle of life

Monitor News Bureau

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By Zafar Meraj

There is an old Kashmiri maxim “Anem suie, wawum suie, lajem suie pansie”. The broad translation of this maxim can be that whosever sows the seeds of the nettle is bound to be bitten by it himself.

And this maxim today fits the detention of Farooq Abdullah, the three time chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, a former union minister, seven-time member of India’s lower house, Lok Sabha, under the provisions of the dreaded Public Safety Act. With this Act of the state establishment, Farooq Abdullah, one of the most vocal votaries of India in Kashmir, has been placed under the category of timber smugglers and drug peddlers, for which the dreaded provisions were supposed to be enacted with later expansion of these to separatists and hardened stone pelters and ‘anti-national’ elements.

 

Never in his dreams would have Farooq Abdullah ever imagined that he would fall victim of the same which his father had imposed to deal with his political opponents and which he and later his son (mis) used with impunity to silence the voice of dissent in a brazen attempt to please their political masters.

It was in 1978, when Sheikh Abdullah was riding a wave of his popularity post 1977 assembly elections, he introduced a bill titled Public Safety Act that provides for the detention of a person for a term of two years without being produced before a court of law.

The law was strongly opposed by the minuscule opposition in the then state assembly that termed it undemocratic and highhanded that exposed the dictatorial tendencies of the Sheikh. The Sheikh who was adamant to enact the law at the earliest defended it on the ground that it was aimed at to curb the growing activities of timber smugglers and drug peddlers.

He dismissed the criticism of the opposition and the fears that it would be used to curb the voices of dissent and silence the opposition.

It was a time when Janata government had come to power in New Delhi and the atrocities and undemocratic measures adopted by Indira Gandhi to silence her political adversaries were still fresh in the minds of the people at large.

Immediately on assuming the power, Morarji Desai led Janata government had abrogated all the laws that were against the liberty of the people and freedom of speech and expression. Laws that were used to detain Indira Gandhi’s critics without any valid ground were removed from the statute book. I still remember the speech of the then union Home Minister Chaudhry Charan Singh in the Lok Sabha pleading with the Sheikh to soften the harsh provisions of law lest it could be misused. “Mairi Sheikh sahib say binty hay ki woh is qanoon kay zehreelay daant nikaal dain (I request Sheikh sahib to remove the poisonous teeth of this law).

But in Kashmir the Sheikh was not moved at all by the pro-democracy and pro-liberty approach of New Delhi and went ahead with enactment of Public Safety Act, which soon confirmed the fears of opposition that this would be used against critics of the state government.

And soon the fears of the opposition turned to be true when the provisions of this law were invoked against Ghulam Nabi Untu, not a timber smuggler or drug peddler but a political activist. The only fault of Ghulam Nabi was that during 1977 elections, he had dared to oppose Sheikh’s National Conference and came out to support late Mohiudin Qarra, who then fought election from Amirakadal constituency on Janata Party ticket. As far as timber smugglers were concerned, they continued with their activities only changing their patrons from erstwhile Congress to the ruling National Conference.

The other notable victim of the Safety Act was Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami, then a young Communist, in mid-seventies, who was lodged in Srinagar central jail for a long time for the fault of raising his voice against the undemocratic and anti-people policies of the National Conference.

Both Farooq and son Omar in their regimes continued to use this law against political opponents as their predecessor had done and whosoever posed a threat to their government or was vocal in his opposition was slapped with the provisions of this law. Never did Farooq or for that matter would have thought that a day would come when they too would fall victims to this black law.

And today when Farooq has been forced to languish into his house, turned into sub jail and Omar subjected to solitary confinement in the infamous Hari Niwas, one wonders what their thoughts would be and will the treatment they have been subjected to bring some change in their thinking?

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Traffic violators to pay huge penalties as JK implements MV Amendment Act 2019

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar: Beware motorists! Next time you flout traffic rules, you may have to shell out huge fines and penalties.

Post the abrogation of Article 370, the amendments made in the Central Motor Vehicle Act 2019 have been implemented in Jammu and Kashmir as well. This is for the first time that the amendments made in the central law have directly been implemented in J&K.

The Centre has notified 63 provisions of Motor Vehicles Amendment Act 2019, which specifies huge penalties for various traffic offences.

 

Under the new rules, the penalty for drunk driving is six months imprisonment or fine up to Rs 10,000 for first time offence. For the same offence committed second time, the penalty includes imprisonment up to two years or fine of Rs 15,000.

The penalty for driving without a license has been increased from Rs 500 to Rs 5,000. Fine for not wearing a seatbelt would attract a fine of Rs 1,000 as against Rs 100. The over-speeding penalty has been increased from Rs 400 to Rs 1,000-Rs 2,000.

Senior Superintendent of traffic police, Tahir Gillani told The Kashmir Monitor that the amendments in the Motor Vehicle Act have been implemented in Jammu and Kashmir from September 1.

“Traffic department is filing challan according to the new rules of Motor Vehicle Amendment Act 2019,” he said.

Sources said that those who are not able to renew the insurance and pollution under control certificate due to the internet blockade are being given relaxation.

Traffic police department has also started series of awareness programme to inform the commuters and motorists about the amended Motor Vehicle Act 2019.

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Govt rolls out e-procurement policy amid internet clampdown

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar: Amid the ongoing communication blockade, the government has rolled-out the much-hyped e-procurement policy in the restive Jammu and Kashmir.

The ongoing internet blockade in Kashmir is the longest ever, crossing over 980 hours and surpassing 2016 record of 240 hours.

Notwithstanding the internet clampdown, the authorities have directed departments to implement e-procurement policy in the state.

 

“It is mandatory for departments to receive all bids through e-procurement portals in respect of all procurements. Departments which do not have large volume of procurement or carry out procurements required only for day to day running of offices and also have not initiated e-procurement through any other solution provided so far, may use e-procurement solution developed by NIC,” read the directives issued to the departmental heads.

The departments have also been directed to prepare annual procurement plan and upload it on the website before January next year.

“Every authority delegated with the financial powers of procuring goods in public interest shall have the responsibility and accountability to bring efficiency, economy, and transparency in matters relating to public procurement and for fair and equitable treatment of suppliers and promotion of competition in public procurement,” the directives read.

Government has however exempted those cases from e-procurement where national security and strategic consideration demands confidentiality. This, however, needs prior approval from the competent authority with concurrence of Finance Department.

Shabir Ahmad, who works as a contractor, questioned government’s move to implement e-procurement policy at a time when Kashmir is witnessing communication clampdown. “It is not possible to submit documents online in Kashmir. How can we apply for any work online when internet services are often blocked here?” he asked.

Ishtiyaq Ahmad, who supplies goods to government departments, said: “We welcome this decision of government but the authorities should also consider the situation in the valley. All online businesses have collapsed in Kashmir because of internet ban.”

Government spokesperson Rohit Kansal, however, said that internet kiosks will be opened in every district so that people can access websites.

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